Upcountry Water Meter Situation Background Briefing
The Upcountry water system is separate and much smaller than the Central Valley water system.
There is more than sufficient water for Upcountry for 9 months from surface water. If the County would drill wells (“ground water”), they could supply Upcountry throughout the year. They will not do this since their long term planning, approved by the County specifies a growth rate of 1%/year. They ration water growth to that rate by not issuing meters. (See “Smoking Gun” chart at link bottom.) This has gone on for 30 years. The result? Local people are driven off island. Those that occupy the desirable Upcountry parcels are increasingly rich outsiders that can afford the high land and home prices that scarcity and regulation brings.
Without a demonstrated source of water, you cannot get a building permit. If you claim that you will go on catchment, you still have to satisfy fire flow requirements. Logically, Fire Flow requirements make no sense either from physical considerations or from fire protection considerations. These requirements are used to prevent unwanted building and small parcel development. The recent ordinance exempting a one parcel into two parcels subdivision demonstrates all of this.
The County does not want Upcountry developed. It is expensive to pump water uphill. DWS loses money selling water to Upcountry users at County rates. Upcountry system gets a 20 % subsidy from the rest of Maui water systems. Because of political considerations (farmers and existing residents), Council refuses to charge true pump costs (i.e., rates increase with altitude) even though this would encourage conservation and is sensible. (San Jose has three price tiers and it is not even on a mountain.) Because of political considerations (farmers and existing residents), they also want to restrain growth.
Regardless of what is meter rates are passed in budget, rates are grandfathered in at 3K/meter for ~five more years.
If meters were guaranteed on request, the meter list would vanish as most of those on it just want to preserve a place in line.
Council may find itself sued if they move rashly as the effect of their 30 year policy has been to deny landowners the fair use of their properly zoned land without compensation.
Council rejected Piiholo South Well, a proven well (1.7 MG/d) ,offered to the County for the cost of hook up to the system. This is larger than any of their existing wells. With this well in their system, they could have issued many more meters.
Council rejected Kula Ridge, an Upcountry development catering to affordable housing, for lack of water even though it offered a $2M subsidy to DWS for the use of Piiholo South water. Although they had all necessary permits, a Councilperson said to a KCA meeting worried about development, “they will never get their water”. And they did not.
Summary: The Upcountry water shortage is an intentional fabrication (fraud), has caused great hardship, has driven locals off island, has cost money, and has exposed the County to legal jeopardy..
Richard Pohle, PhD, umla founder.
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Link to 2015 Priority List by TMK (at page bottom)
Link to 2015 Upcountry Meter List By Priority Number (at page bottom)